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10 homeless people dying every year in the East End, shock National Statistics data shows

PUBLISHED: 14:08 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:13 25 February 2019

Plight of rough sleeping... depicted by model. Picture: Sam Mellish

Plight of rough sleeping... depicted by model. Picture: Sam Mellish

Credit Sam Mellish

More than 40 homeless people are known to have died on the streets of London’s East End in the past five years, latest data from the Office for National Statistics reveals.

Dispare... Crypt at St Botolph's in Aldgate opened in 1977 by The Rev Malcolm Johnson to provide food, warmth and medical care, shown as part of David Hoffman exhibition at Gallery 46. Picture: David HoffmanDispare... Crypt at St Botolph's in Aldgate opened in 1977 by The Rev Malcolm Johnson to provide food, warmth and medical care, shown as part of David Hoffman exhibition at Gallery 46. Picture: David Hoffman

Identified deaths recorded in Tower Hamlets reached 36 between 2013 and 2018—but official estimates put the total at 44, an average of nearly one a month.

Tower Hamlets for two years was the fourth highest local authority area in the country for the soaring number of deaths, 2013 and 2015, at a total estimate of 24, data released today reveals.

The highest estimated numbers in 2017 were in major urban areas such as London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Areas with the highest deprivation such as Tower Hamlets had around nine times more homeless people dying relative to their population than more affluent and advantaged areas—574 throughout the country compared to rural areas with only 26.

They were identified from the death registration records with additional estimates of those not identified as homeless. But “the real numbers may still be higher”, the statistics authority warns.

Crypt at Spitalfields Church used as a homeless shelter, 1960s-90s. Picture: Vertical RushCrypt at Spitalfields Church used as a homeless shelter, 1960s-90s. Picture: Vertical Rush

East End charities and churches traditionally give shelter to those on the streets to survive the winter. The Crypt at Spitalfields Christchurch opened for the destitute back in the 1960s, now moved to Shoreditch. Another shelter was operated at Botolph’s in Aldgate.

A £2.25 million council programme was started in October by Tower Hamlets using empty buildings for accommodation.

The first was the derelict former doctor’s surgery in Bethnal Green known as ‘the cottage’ where four homeless people on the council’s register were given studio flats in the building once used as a neighbourhood community centre that fell into disrepair.

Mayor John Biggs said at the time: “It’s putting a roof over the head of the most vulnerable and the first step to providing 50 new housing units.”

Homeless patients at the Royal London Hospital have been getting through winter once they’re discharged with gifts of warm clothes and toiletries donated by Tesco shoppers voting for the Pathway charity to get £3,800 donation from the supermarket chain.

Homeless patients getting help at the Royal London ready to be discharged. Picture: RLHHomeless patients getting help at the Royal London ready to be discharged. Picture: RLH

The hospital helps homeless patients find accommodation, giving them bedding and crockery, sorting out financial problems and trying to reconnect them with lost family.

Many homeless patients would otherwise be forced to sleep rough after being discharged and become trapped in a cycle of illness, constantly at risk of dying on the street.

The number of homeless people in Tower Hamlets reached 326 in 2014, more than double in just four years, research by Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick found. It was a rise of 109 per cent which the MP blamed on lack of funds for council housing.

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